On Friday, May 14, 2021, Netflix unveiled a new movie “I’m All Girls.” This South African feature film, which denounces human trafficking, is a hit on the streaming platform. Is right ?
In Johannesburg, South Africa, Jodie Snyman is investigating a series of murders involving government men. As the investigation progresses, Jodie realizes that a serial killer is doing justice to himself, eliminating those involved in child trafficking. Each time, the murderer engraves the initials of the missing on the men he murdered. Here is the pitch of the new Netflix film, currently in the Top 10 France. A violent subject, for a rather successful proposal …
“I am all the girls”, a story inspired by real events
The film I am all the girls is inspired, in part, by real events. The plot, which unfolds today, is anchored in a historical, political and social context which is extremely painful for South Africa. In 1991, when apartheid was abolished, there was a sharp increase in kidnappings of little girls. In reality, rising poverty and unemployment are forcing families to prostitute their children. I am all the girls is inspired by this reality to develop its fictional story.
Moreover, if the story of the film remains fictitious, it is impossible not to see the similarities with the story of Gert van Rooyen, a pedophile and South African serial killer. He made at least six victims, never found, between 1988 and 1989. I am all the girls opens with the interrogation of a man, here named Gert de Jager, accused of trafficking in children on behalf of a corrupt politician. Strongly similar names which suggest that the story is inspired by this sordid news item.
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The importance of naming victims in films
If the film begins with this flashback where Gert de Jager confesses, half-word, his atrocities, in a painful sequence to watch, we are relieved of the turn that I am all the girls subsequently takes. In fact, these first five minutes then allow the victims of human trafficking to be highlighted throughout the film. Better yet, they are named. As soon as Jodie, the heroine in charge of the investigation, discovers the mutilated corpse of an executioner, a photo appears on the screen with, below, the name of the little girl whose life he destroyed.
Certainly, like that of Gert van Rooyen, the names of the victims have been changed. However, they strongly resemble those of the victims of the serial killer. It is as if, despite the liberties taken concerning the adaptation of this true story, the director Donovan Marsh had wanted to stay as close as possible to the identity of these little girls who have disappeared and never been found. I am all the girls has the merit of giving an identity to the victims by passing, and this is very appreciable, ultra-creepy scenes to which we are generally accustomed in this type of film. There where The snake, a recent Netflix production also inspired by a real bie killer, mentioned the victims after showing them in scenes of unbearable torture, I am all the girls does not horrify and humanizes the young victims.
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Women’s desire for revenge, a subject in itself
Moreover, if the love story between Jodie and her colleague, a forensic scientist, is fictitious, it totally serves the purpose of the film. I am all the girls is not just a story inspired by real events: the feature film, produced by Netflix, highlights the trauma of women victims of male violence, the way it constructs them and the consequences on their lives. Sorority and love between women being here a logical response to patriarchal violence. On the one hand, Jodie is significantly impacted psychologically by the investigation. On the other hand, her colleague and lover Ntombi Bapai is also, following the sexual assaults of which she was the victim.
Through this character, the film is therefore a feminist project. It addresses, with particular care, the legitimate desire for revenge of women who have suffered sexual violence. And, thanks to the gaze turned towards his heroines, I am all the girls puts the executioners in the background to focus on the most important: the victims. A position that is good, at a time when productions dedicated to serial killers are going well.
Mélanie deciphers pop culture from a societal angle and questions the female gaze in films or even series, because everything is a question of gaze, she …